Paris police have banned gatherings at sites near key government sites in a bid to end protests against France’s plan to raise the statutory retirement age by two years without a vote.
“Due to the serious threat of disturbances to public order and security … any gathering on and around the Place de la Concorde and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is prohibited,” police said, according to an AFP report. “People who try to gather there are systematically expelled by the police.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to push through the new law that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, using Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows him to pass a law without a parliamentary vote. His decision has proved deeply unpopular, prompting nationwide protests.
Protesters rallied in cities including Bordeaux, Marseille and elsewhere to continue to call for the vote, which Macron seems unconvinced would happen.
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Despite the Paris ban, protests continued on Saturday anyway, gathering instead in the Les Halles shopping district in central Paris, according to Politico.
More than eight in 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to cancel a parliamentary vote and 65% want strikes and protests to continue, according to a poll by Toluna Harris Interactive for RTL Radio.
The protests have hit a number of vital industries, including refineries, refuse collection and railways, The Guardian reported.
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CGT union leader Philippe Martinez stressed that the group had made it clear to Macron that the protests would continue as long as he pursued his plan to pass the legislation.
“No one can say we didn’t say anything: we told him,” Martinez said, adding that “the situation was explosive.”
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The street protests were largely peaceful, but police clashed with protesters on Friday night, arresting 61 people after a fire was lit near the National Assembly. Demonstrators chanted “Macron, resign!” as they battled a line of riot police.
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Over 300 people have been arrested across the country, including 258 in the National Assembly area in recent days.
A broad coalition of France’s main unions said they would continue to try to force a reversal on the changes.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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